by Brianne Allen
Brianne Allen is a writer from New York City and a freshman at Emerson College. She was named a 2019 National YoungArts Finalist in Writing and has additionally been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She has been published in places such as Gone Lawn, Rookie Magazine, and Third Point Press.
9 months of things i did instead of writing
i met your mother and bought her sugar candy and pretended to be the virgin mary. i laid in your bedroom with my legs sewn together. i practiced spanish and let it wash over me like someone else’s river. i forgot how to walk, tried to do yoga. told you i did yoga. let you get off at the thought of stretching me like a rubber band.
i celebrated the sabbats in silence, let my witchcraft become passive. i ate whatever you brought to my mouth. i forgot how to ask for things. i kept saying sorry. i looked at the moon and thanked her that i was in love. i prayed for you. i kissed you when you were sick. i looked at my body and said hey i am, i am flesh and bone and spit. i forgot.
i cried when you touched me the first time. i let you ignore me. i let you name me dog wife and heard you cry sorry on the phone. and when you tired of my body i said well at least i have cranberry juice, at least my mother’s lap is forgiving. i didn’t ask for permanency. leaves fall, trash burns. arizona is 99 cents so i drink myself silly and my body becomes so liquid i swear i am almost blessed.
we all burned to feel something
at 14, my nana swallows a peach pit.
she raises it up biblical, nurses
the whine of her stomach with birthday cake.
her body is not far from a broomstick,
she will snap during her wedding ceremony.
the prelude for pregnancy is sharp.
girls are smashed on floors for good luck.
at 16 my nana spits the peach pit out,
sweet fibers disintegrate into old hunger.
there are other things to do.
she births a baby girl, starts
at 15 i lighten my hair with drugstore golden
blonde. coils collapse down ginger, edges spit
back platinum. somehow i walk the world both cutting
and soft. somehow i forget how sweetness always bleeds.
a boy calls me strawberry seed and unbuttons me
slowly. plants sprout up dead and too fast.
i am too much for myself to stomach.
my mother, 17, thinks she is in love when pork curls
fatty and harmonious in a pot of collard greens.
when a boy in a letterman jacket breaks her collarbone
and lets her keep the bruises.
her body serves as conditional evidence.
her body serves as a flowered cage for already dead animals.
my mother walks home, chapped teeth in her pockets
she is always still smiling, always still laughing.
my mother, linen-bound, girl-dammed.
destined to be pregnant as a wind chime.
i, 17, think i am in love when i taste a new tongue for the first time,
when i kiss a girl under her home state tree,
take the lines of her ancestry down my throat,
choke on the dusk where her hands are absent.
i cannot configure my own body.
lift the hyacinth from the root, sort the tomatoes into boxes.
i cannot find any practical uses for the seeds of my lineage,
will probably bury under them under some old ache anyways.
in my dreams you are the perfect
african american father
and your hands shake
only at the sky
only at your own unknowable
man who has catapulted you
like a yellow watermelon
the sky wrinkles
like the thick creases
by your eyes and mine
the skin is dry
the air is dry
and you have never killed
a man who stands
in the kitchen wringing
out rags and making
who says corazon
and goodnight chica
and can stand the sight
of blood on a pad
watch the perfect african
kiss baby girl
kiss baby boy
look at wife and see